CLARKE, James I (c.1575-1621), of Norton Fitzwarren, Som.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. c.1575, 1st s. of James Clarke† of Norton Fitzwarren and the M. Temple, and Ebbott, da. of William Lovell, clothier, of Bishop’s Lydeard, Som.1 educ. Taunton g.s. (John Bond*); Caius, Camb. 1590, aged 15, BA 1594, MA 1597; L. Inn 1595; incorp. Oxf. 1597.2 m. 3 Apr. 1604, Jane, da. and coh. of Robert Broughton of Sampford Beckfield, Wembdon, Som., 4s. 2da. suc. fa. 1612. bur. 22 Jan. 1621.3

Offices Held

Commr. sewers, Som. 1616,4 j.p. by 1617-d.;5 treas. W. Som. 1617-18.6


Clarke’s father, whose breeding was ‘mean and poor, yet far from scurrility’, made a successful living from the law, achieving much of his ‘wealth and place’ as a servant of lord chief justice (Sir) John Popham†, and representing Mitchell in the 1589 Parliament.7 Presumably Clarke himself showed promise in a different direction. Taught initially by John Bond, one of the finest English classicists of this period, he went on to take two Cambridge degrees. In 1612 Clarke inherited two manors in the vicinity of Taunton, although his main seat of Norton Fitzwarren was initially vested in trustees, including Sir Francis Popham*, for the benefit of his mother.8 He enjoyed enough credit in Taunton to be returned for the borough in 1614, but left no trace on the records of the Addled Parliament. Like his father, Clarke played an active role on the Somerset bench, but his career was cut short by his early death in January 1621. He was buried at Norton Fitzwarren. Neither will, administration, nor inquisition for him has been found. He was the last member of this family to sit in Parliament.9

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. C142/278/159; 142/340/209.
  • 2. Al. Cant.; LI Admiss.
  • 3. Vis. Som. (Harl. Soc. xi), 16; Som. Wills ed. F. Brown, i. 47; Soc. Gen., Norton Fitzwarren par. reg.
  • 4. C181/2, f. 246v.
  • 5. Q.S. Recs. ed. E.H. Bates (Som. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 209, 264.
  • 6. Ibid. 215.
  • 7. STAC 8/163/26; HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 610.
  • 8. C142/340/209.
  • 9. STAC 8/163/26; Soc. Gen., Norton Fitzwarren par. reg.